Americans were celebrating everywhere when Osama bin Laden was killed. But al-Qaeda continued to be a threat, and the average person doesn’t care or know it. Who were these people partying in front of the White House? Terrorist organizations in Africa and the Middle East were growing. The death of bin Laden was more therapeutic and proved our will and vigilance. But it wasn’t a crushing blow to al-Qaeda or other terror groups. It’d be like killing George Washington after he left government. Besides, we got more porn out of the raid than actionable or insightful intelligence, according to most reports.

These groups don’t care about 9/11 any longer. It was a victory for them, and it has long come and gone. We should have the same mentality as a people. We’re still in combat in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, unlike Bin Laden, is alive. There’s a new group that has the world scared. What are we doing? We don’t have a plan, I don’t think. Our approach to dealing with these groups changes with every administration, and on a whim depending on advisory. In part, this is why agencies have careerists who conspire to do the right thing over the long term. Foreign policy in the government is incredibly complex and not devoid of politics; it’s not as straightforward as some might think.

9/11 opened the door to a view of the world we hadn’t seen before. That door was only cracked before the attack. Nations like Israel live in a constant state of fear of the next large-scale terror attack. They are in real danger, but it consumes them. It drives much of their foreign policy and actions abroad. It hurts their relations with other countries, which on the whole are not strong. We cannot fall victim to a similar mentality. We’ll turn on ourselves and lose sight of our enemies simply by mistakenly perceiving everyone as a threat. It doesn’t work.

I hate saying it, but 9/11, still being used by many as a way to incite anger and fear, isn’t good for the republic. Hillary Clinton has mentioned on several occasions that she was the senator of the area in which 9/11 happened. But why should we care about that right now? She was also at State and was an executive decision-maker when we took the Iraqis off our teat. They were almost immediately starving and began to look elsewhere for help. Look who has stepped up. That didn’t work out well, did it, Uncle Sam?

We have issues at home. Our policy abroad has contributed to a Middle East that’s out of control. Bureaucracy and tribalism within our government are difficult to navigate while trying to be change agents abroad. These developments are a result of our initial reaction to 9/11. We let ourselves off the leash. We became unrestrained in the world. We might want to reel it in—take a deep breath. For all its faults, that is one thing the current administration has practiced. In Syria, that method forced us to miss a small window to support the right rebels at the right time. But we have also avoided a quagmire by avoiding jumping into Syria.

We can’t kill our way out of the terrorists’ crosshairs. We have to seek somehow to realign the Arab world with the developed countries. Killing the developed countries’ dangerous enemies abroad is badass and provides productive metrics, but we’ve built an entire force and effort around it. The State Department has faded to the background, but remains at the heart of world affairs. We’re all complicit, and we’ve created a feedback loop of war and turmoil abroad under the theory it makes us safe at home.

It is a minority that fights on our behalf. It’s a minuscule percentage of men and women who are risking their lives on the national and strategic level. A lack of vision and reactive policies force our best trained to conduct operations they are not prepared to execute. The mission has become opaque; everything is secret. We’ve fallen in love with the exclusivity of secrecy. The worst part of it all is the one thing 9/11 should have done never came to be: national unity. We’re at each other’s throats, and we’ve lost sight that we are all in this together.

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